I am very fortunate to have grown with wonderful, loving supportive parents – an inspirational Mum and a kind, understanding Dad. I wanted to grow up fast. My two older sisters had me convinced I was adopted because we looked so different. My long oval face was so unlike theirs’. I found the learning easy, and, as the youngest in the class was eager to please, but was in a crappy year level at an all-girls exclusive school. Some of the girls were so mean my parents kept offering for me to change schools, but I felt there would be just as many bitches everywhere I went. I was terribly late to mature, and I didn’t reach puberty until I was 16. I was tall, skinny, oval faced and boobless. I felt very unattractive. My family would tell me that I was just an ugly duckling who would grow into a beautiful swan. But to a 14 year old, that seemed like forever away.
Then a new family arrived into the beautiful Adelaide Hills in which I lived. The eldest and I became fast friends. She was intelligent, didn’t give a shit about the bitchy politics at school, and wanted to go out dancing.
We didn’t have the sort of money I would have liked to dress myself in style. In fact, we used to look forward to the arrival of hand-me-downs every six months from Emma F Angus and would draw straws to see who could start the picking. I wanted to look hip. So after playing the required school sport on a Saturday morning, mum would stop at the fabric shop and let me get something. I would whip something up to wear that night at the disco.
My stylish grandma would shake her head at the crappy insides of each outfit, but I felt good. Clothes that fit my skinny frame and were original, and yet in style. I still felt like I didn’t belong and a chap yelling out one night “come back when you grow some boobs” didn’t help my confidence.
Much to my mum’s horror, I was asked to make a skirt for a lady who had an odd figure. I just extended and altered my skirt pattern and whipped it up. I’m not sure if I ever really fit, but I had the ballsy confidence of youth.
I was sixteen, studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and History in year 12, because I could, not because I loved it. I finished an uninspiring physics class and headed downstairs to the drama room to meet my gorgeous friend Tara. She was practicing Medea until her mum arrived to pick us up, I loved helping her with her lines. It dawned on me that if I studied a science based career, I was headed for six more years of what I was doing. But in life, of all the things I did, my favourite was sewing. Around the family dinner table, I announced I was going to study fashion. (My poor shocked parents were pleased I was planning to finish my final year of school before embarking on such a drastically different plan.)
A year later I was studying fashion design at RMIT university in Melbourne. I had started dating a fellow nine years older than me. He thought I was gorgeous and this helped enormously with my self esteem. But it was the lonely move at 17 when I realised no one knew who I was. I could be whomever I wanted. But who did I want to be? My university years were trial an error, but I discovered that the world was full of lots of nice people. It is not all dog eat dog like at school.
As I grew, I realised we are not made attractive by our physical attributes as much as by the thoughts in our minds and the actions we choose to take. Many of the girls at school were physically attractive, but really nasty in their actions. They will be forever ugly. But those of us who are kind and nurturing to those around us, cast beams of warm glow and appear more attractive to those we meet.
My quest is to help everyone find their inner personality and to create clothing that is an extension of their true self. When we do this, we are radiant and we glow. I believe when we reveal who we really want to be, and show kindness and compassion to those around us, we are ever more attractive.
I want everyone to take the time to find themselves, and to have the opportunity to transform from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. If this is done just right, then you too can take his breath away…
PS: Have you found your swan? We’d love to hear your story! Tell us in the comments below.
This stunning photography is by Jesse Hisco Photography.